OHairs Ascent Lehman Keeping Tabs

By Mercer BaggsAugust 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Sean OHair is a PGA Tour winner, a millionaire, and a man content with life who is preparing to play in his second career major championship.
 
It wasnt that way a year ago.
 
David Leadbetter and Sean O
Sean O'Hair chats with instructor David Leadbetter during Wednesday's practice round.
I know I was playing the Cleveland Tour last year this time, he said. Im not exactly sure where I was on the mini-tours obviously; traveling with my wife in our motor home from tournament to tournament, which is kind of funny when you think about it. So Ive come a long way in a year.
 
OHair, who made it through all three stages of Q-School in 2004, started his rookie season in the big leagues with one goal in mind: keeping his card.
 
But with a victory in the John Deere Classic, those goals have changed. He no longer has to worry about keeping his playing status and can focus on adding to his trophy collection.
 
Theres a lot of big tournaments coming up, and I just want to improve each week on whatever I need to improve on and try to learn as much as a can, said OHair, who tied for 15th in his major debut at the Open Championship.
 
I want to play well and obviously want to win, but right now I dont think Im quite seasoned enough to come into a tournament like this, or any kind of tournament, and say, you know, well, Im going to win this event.
 
Still, OHair, the winner of the 1998 PGA Junior Championship, thinks he can contend on the Lower Course at Baltusrol.
 
I think I definitely have the ability to play well this week, he said. Whenever Im playing well, I hit the ball fairly long and straight. Thats normally the strength of my game, the driver. And the driver is the key on this golf course.
 
UNDER HIS WATCHFUL EYE:
The Ryder Cup is still over a year away, but U.S. captain Tom Lehman is already keeping tabs on potential team members.
 
I definitely pay attention to how guys are performing, and not just the points list, Lehman said, but also to where guys are finishing also in the big events.
 
Its always been my opinion the best players seem to be able to elevate their games in the big tournaments ' majors and The Players Championship and the World Golf Championships.
 
Lehman has competed on three Ryder Cup teams, but hes getting a better understanding of the biennial event while serving a captaincy role.
 
Ive come to understand a little bit more what the Ryder Cup probably means to not only just the players, but the media and the fans, as well, he said.
 
I spent three weeks in Europe, and a typical conversation like at the British Open would be: Hey, nice birdie on 15. Whos going to win the Ryder Cup? Then from there it goes to: Well, I sure liked the results (in 2004); I hope we beat you again like at Oakland Hills.
 
It was hundreds, if not thousands of golf fans with that kind of enthusiasm.
 
Its the biggest event in golf (for Europeans) and theres no bigger thing to win than being a part of a winning Ryder Cup team,' he added. 'I think thats been hugely beneficial to me, understanding that mentality, because you need to have the same exact mentality, if not better, to beat them.
 
Lehman added that he will be watching this years Presidents Cup intently.
 
Ill definitely pay attention to who is playing with whom, he said. Ill be very interested to see who (U.S. captain) Jack (Nicklaus) pairs together.
 
I also think its very important for the U.S. team that they win. I think its actually a huge week for the U.S. players.
 
GIVE HIM THE MIC:
As defending champion, Vijay Singh was the man of the hour at Tuesday nights Champions Dinner.
 
Yeah, my second job I think is going to be emcee if anybody wants to have me. I think I did a great job, he said with a big laugh.
 
He later said he was just joking: I think I screwed up. I was OK. You know, I wouldnt take that as a job, no. No, thank you. Id do something else. I make people laugh, thats about all.
 
Singh said the dinner consisted of Thai food from his favorite restaurant in Atlanta, Ga., as well as a few bottles of wine. He gave his fellow PGA Championship winners Fenwick fishing rods and a one-year subscription to Bassmaster Magazine.
 
I thought Id give something that everybody would be able to do, and fishing, a lot of players love fishing, he said. The Fenwick shaft was actually tested by NASA, in the shuttle that just flew over two days ago so its the only one of a kind. I thought I would mention that.
 
Players wives received Thai silk robes.
 
PART OF THE GROUP:
David Toms, as the 2001 winner, was in attendance at the Champions Dinner. He said his favorite part wasnt the food or the gifts, but the company.
 
Listening to Jack (Nicklaus) speak was a highlight. Just listening to him talk about his experiences at Baltusrol, Toms said. Its just great to be among that group.
 
HAMILTON READY TO START ANEW:
Speaking of special engagements, Todd Hamilton attended his first Champions Dinner at the Open Championship four weeks ago.
 
I got to sit between two guys that had won the tournament five times apiece, in Peter Thomson and Tom Watson, Hamilton said. It was a magical experience. I felt a little out of place, but I guess I earned my way to get in there.
 
Hamilton defeated Ernie Els in a playoff in the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon. He since has only one top-10, and none this season.
 
He missed the cut at St. Andrews, and said that he was glad to put his Open champion reign behind him.
 
Im kind of glad that years over with. I didnt really play all that well after (winning) for quite a while, he said, adding that his expectations are still that of a major champion. Whether its a (regular) tournament, whether its a major, or whether its playing back home with my friends, it doesnt matter. I expect to play well.
 
As for his chances this week, in his first major since giving back the claret jug: Its going to be pretty tough. Youve got to drive it straight, and Im not driving it straight at the moment.
 
PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?!?:
 
The PGA Championship will once again use a three-hole playoff should there be the need for one.
 
Players will compete on the 194-yard, par-3 fourth; the 423-yard, par-4 fifth; and the 554-yard, par-5 18th.
 
Tiger Woods defeated Bob May in 2000, the first year a three-hole playoff was used. Vijay Singh used the cumulative session to defeat Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard a year ago.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

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    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry